4.7 24
Director: Terry Gilliam

Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Michael Palin, Kim Greist


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Brazil constitutes Terry Gilliam's enormously ambitious follow-up to his 1981 Time Bandits. It also represents the second installment in a trilogy of Gilliam films on imagination versus reality, that began with Bandits and ended in 1989 with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. To create this wild, visually audacious satire, Gilliam combinesSee more details below


Brazil constitutes Terry Gilliam's enormously ambitious follow-up to his 1981 Time Bandits. It also represents the second installment in a trilogy of Gilliam films on imagination versus reality, that began with Bandits and ended in 1989 with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. To create this wild, visually audacious satire, Gilliam combines dystopian elements from Orwell, Huxley and Kafka (plus a central character who mirrors Walter Mitty) with his own trademark, Monty Python-esque, jet black British humor and his gift for extraordinary visual invention. The results are thoroughly unprecedented in the cinema. Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a civil servant who chooses to blind himself to the decaying, drone-like world around him. It's a world marred by oppressive automatization and towering bureaucracy, and populated by tyrannical guards who strongarm lawbreakers. And Lowry is stuck in the middle of this nightmare. Whenever real life becomes too oppressive, Sam fantasizes (to the tune of Ary Baroso's 1930s hit "Brazil") about sailing through the clouds as a winged superhero, and rescuing beautiful Jill Layton (Kim Greist) from a giant, Samurai warrior. The omnipresent computer that controls everything in the "real" world malfunctions, causing an innocent citizen to be arrested and tortured to death. When Sam routinely investigates the error, he meets - and pursues Jill , literally the girl of his dreams. But in real life, she's a tough-as-nails truck driver who initially wants nothing to do with him. It turns out that she is suspected of underground activities, in connection with a terrorist network wanted for bombing public places. The price Sam pays for his association with her is a close encounter with the man in charge of torturing troublesome citizens (Michael Palin). He is rescued - at the last minute - by maintenance man Harry Tuttle (Robert de Niro) who moonlights as a terrorist, but that only represents the beginning of his plight, for now the "system" is onto him. Gilliam ran into enormous problems with Brazil. Universal - which produced the picture - originally slated it for release in 1984, but the studio - intimidated by the film's whopping length of 142 minutes - demanded that Gilliam trim the film to bring it in under two hours and alter the pessimistic ending. Gilliam refused; Universal shelved the picture for a year. In response, the director took out a full page ad in Variety asking studio president Sid Sheinberg when the film would be released. Sensing tremendous pressure, Universal bowed to Gilliam's insistence on fewer cuts but still demanded a happy ending. Gilliam trimmed only eleven minutes and altered the conclusion just slightly (instead of cutting to black, it fades into puffy white clouds on a blue sky, with a reprise of the title tune). It was thus released in early 1985 at 131 minutes, and of course became a seminal work; many critics regarded it at the time as the best film of the eighties.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ben Wolf
A satirical masterpiece directed by former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, this dark, dystopian fantasy dazzled viewers with its delirious camera moves and audacious production design. In an Orwellian future, chaos ensues when a housefly causes a glitch in the bureaucratic machinery, leading to false arrests, terrorism, and Ministry of Information clerk Sam Lowry's (Jonathan Pryce) rendezvous with his dream girl (Kim Greist). Lanky Pryce makes an unlikely epic hero, which is exactly the point: By day he is a functionary; at night he imagines himself to be a winged warrior battling the forces of evil and rescuing his blonde damsel in distress, who may or may not be in league with an insurgent heating duct engineer (Robert De Niro). Brazil became famous not just for its visionary filmmaking but for the much-publicized "Battle of Brazil" that pitted Gilliam against the real-life bureaucratic forces at Universal, who thought the film was too long and downbeat. Gilliam eventually cut the film down to 131 minutes and slightly altered the ending; after it won multiple awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Universal was forced to release this landmark celebration of the imagination.
All Movie Guide
Director Terry Gilliam's comic fantasy-nightmare portrays a future in which Big Brother is definitely watching. The film suggests no particular time, boasting a retro style that gives it an ominous timelessness. Like Ridley Scott's Blade Runner or Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Brazil succeeds precisely because it presents a grimy future with real similarities to the present, where technology and efficiency lead to more, not less, government interference and bureaucracy. Brazil also adds an element of comedy to the mix; some of the zaniest scenes involve Robert DeNiro, playing against type as the hilarious terrorist Harry Tuttle. Visually, the film is a near-psychedelic wonder, with such indelible images as the bleak metropolis that launches from the ground, disrupting the idyllic dreams of unlikely hero Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce). To say Gilliam pulled out all the stops is an understatement -- it seems that every image that popped into his head has found its way into the film. Brazil was criticized by some for going too far, and this lack of restraint does extend to the sometimes hard-to-follow plot. But a little incoherence is a relatively small price to pay for what is otherwise a startlingly imaginative work.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jonathan Pryce Sam Lowry
Michael Palin Jack Lint
Kim Greist Jill Layton
Robert De Niro Harry Tuttle
Katherine Helmond Ida Lowrey
Ian Holm Kurtzman
Ian Richardson Warren
Peter Vaughan Helpmann
Bob Hoskins Spoor
Derrick O'Connor Dowser
Charles McKeown Lime
Barbara Hicks Mrs. Terrian
Kathryn Pogson Shirley
Jim Broadbent Dr. Jaffe
Jack Purvis Dr. Chapman
Bryan Pringle Spiro
Sheila Reid Mrs. Buttle
Ray Cooper Technician
John Flanagan TV Interviewer/Salesman
Brian Miller Mr. Buttle
Simon Nash Boy Buttle
Prudence Oliver Girl Buttle
Simon Jones Arrest Official
Derek Deadman Bill, Department of Works
Nigel Planer Charlie, Department of Works
Tony Portacio Neighbor in Clerk's Pool
Winston Dennis Samurai Warrior
Diana Martin Telegram Girl
Elizabeth Spender Alison/Barbara Lint
Anthony G. Brown Porter, Information Retrieval
Myrtle Devenish Typist in Jack's Office
Holly Gilliam Holly
John Pierce Jones Basement Guard
Ann Way Old Lady with Dog
Terry Forrestal Burning Trooper
Don Henderson 1st Black Maria Guard
Howard Lew Lewis 2nd Black Maria Guard
Oscar Quitak Interview Official
Patrick Connor Cell Guard
Roger Ashton-Griffiths Priest
Gorden Kaye M.O.I. Lobby Porter
Sadie Corré Midget Woman

Technical Credits
Terry Gilliam Director,Screenwriter
James Acheson Costumes/Costume Designer
John Beard Art Director
Patrick Cassavetti Co-producer
Richard Conway Special Effects
Julian Doyle Editor
Graham Ford Production Manager
Norman Garwood Production Designer
George Gibbs Special Effects
Frank Gill Screenwriter
Joseph P. Grace Associate Producer
Maggie Gray Set Decoration/Design
Michael Kamen Score Composer
Laura Kerr Screenwriter
Irene Lamb Casting
Charles McKeown Screenwriter
Arnon Milchan Producer
Robert North Producer
Keith Pain Art Director
Roger Pratt Cinematographer
Walter Scharf Score Composer
Aaron Sherman Makeup
Tom Stoppard Screenwriter
Tip Tipping Stunts
Bill Weston Stunts
Maggie Weston Makeup

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